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Beware of “Steering” by Your Auto Insurance Company

Feb 24, 2015 - Car Accident by

5639847368_eb10427e82More than 500 auto repair body shops have filed lawsuits in multiple states against some of the nation’s top auto insurance companies. They allege that these auto insurance companies are pressuring them to perform fast work using cheap or used imitation parts. If an auto body repair shop refuses to go along with this practice, then the auto insurance company will steer customers away from that body shop to other body shops more willing to use potentially inferior, or perhaps even unsafe, parts.

In Texas, the law requires auto insurance companies to give consumers whose cars have been in a crash or wreck a choice of what body shop they use. However, many insurance companies “encourage” consumers to go to a particular body shop that is a “preferred shop” with that insurance company. Consumers were often told their repairs would be faster, guaranteed, or would have other benefits.

The body shop involved in the lawsuit claims the insurance companies are trying to steer consumers to body shops who will do cut-rate work and thus save the insurance company money. It is not only auto body shops that are suing the top insurance companies. At least three attorney generals from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma are also considering joining the lawsuits. Buddy Caldwell, the attorney general for the state of Louisiana, has filed suit against State Farm Insurance Company in his state. State Farm is the largest auto insurance company operating in the state. Attorney General Caldwell has stated that he fears thousands of consumers could be driving cars and trucks that have been repaired with junk yard parts or defective parts installed by body shops recommended to the consumers by their own automobile insurance company.

One body shop owner claims it has always been his goal to install high quality parts in a good workman-like fashion. Unfortunately, because he chooses to do proper work, it may cost the insurance companies a little bit more to repair a damaged or wrecked vehicle. So, instead of encouraging consumers to use his shop, he alleges the auto insurance companies are instead encouraging consumers to go to other body shops whose work quality may not be as high nor use parts of the same quality. The results are that a small company may be put out of business, and consumers may be stuck with inferior repairs and parts.

The practice has gotten so bad that a United States Senator is now demanding the United States Department of Justice investigate this practice. Senator Richard Plymothol of Connecticut wants the Justice Department to investigate the practice of “steering.” Steering is when an insurance company steers a consumer to a particular body shop, because that shop will use cheaper parts and require cheaper labor to repair the vehicle.

Senator Plymothol’s concern is not only that many good auto body shops could be put out business by the practice of “steering” but that this practice raises safety concerns. Senator Plymothol contends that some body shops cut corners and reduce prices so that the insurance companies will steer business to them. These body shops will often use salvaged, inferior, or even counterfeit auto parts that could lead to a catastrophic collision or failure of a safety system.

If you have been in a car crash or truck wreck in Tyler, Longview, or East Texas… know your rights. You have the right to pick your auto repair shop. More importantly, you have the right to know what types of parts are being installed on your vehicle.

If you, or someone you know or love, have been seriously injured in a car crash, truck wreck, motor cycle accident, or collision with an 18-wheeler, call the personal injury lawyers of Roberts and Roberts. For more than 30 years, these car wreck attorneys have fought to represent and protect consumers against the unfair practices of auto insurance companies. Roberts and Roberts can help you get the medical care you need, collect your lost wages, and have your car repaired or have you compensated for its loss. The call costs you nothing… it could mean everything.

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